Blog Posts, Pediatric Cancer

An Open Letter To The Parents Of My Patients

Dear _____,

I am so sorry you’re going through this battle. A few weeks ago, your life was “normal” and today, you’re starting to realize that you see me more than your family. I can’t imagine the heartache you feel watching, or even helping me hold down your precious child so I can access their central line or give them another medication. It doesn’t hurt me the way it hurts you, but it hurts me in a different way. I see the tear in the corner of your eye after your child throws up for the 4th time today. My face might not show it, but I’m cursing cancer and chemo up and down, all over again.  I watch you hold your breath while your child screams for help and I’ve watched you fight back tears when I have to hang the next bag of chemo that’s supposed to save their life. Even though I’ve seen it time and time again, it never gets easier for me to see. I’ll never get used to the image of a child fighting cancer, and quite frankly, it’d scare me if I did. You asked me why I’m a little bit quieter today than usual… but I can’t tell you it’s because I can’t get some of the images out of my head I just saw down the hall. I do my best to process emotions as they come, but nothing about this job is ever easy. I try and shield you from things other kids are going through because I don’t want you to worry about them, too. You might think I don’t notice, but I know the pullout couch you’ve been sleeping on for 2 weeks straight is killing your back… but you sleep on it anyways. I want you to know I admire you and I’m amazed at your strength. I’ve heard you mumble that you’re weak and tired, but I’ve watched you pull strength from places I didn’t even know existed. You parents? You’re the strongest people I know. I don’t pretend to know how you feel, but I want you to know I’m here and that I see you. To be honest, you and your child have taught me more in the short time that I’ve known you than you could ever imagine. Because of you, I prioritize a little different. Because of you, I cherish life a little bit louder. I started this job so that I could be the one that makes a difference. I wanted to bring the sunshine, the laughter, the joy. I had no idea that you and your child would  bring me all of that and more. Thank you for trusting me with your most valuable possession… I can’t imagine how scary it is to hand over complete control to a group of people you just met, but I promise we’ll do everything in our power to make your child better and get you guys home. Me and my coworkers? We were born for this. We love being your new family and we’ll do anything to make you guys smile, laugh and feel comfortable. The best part of our job? Celebrating success… it’s so desperately needed. 

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6 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Parents Of My Patients”

  1. This is so true the nurses that i know are caring people and go above what is asked of them. My Daughter is a Chemo Nurse for children and adults. She takes pride in what she does and treats them all special. They are like family to them and they understand to a degree what your child and you are going through. I’ve seen her cry for a child and I’ve seen her smile when a child is cancer free.and a hug for those who need to be reasured.to all who travels this road G
    od bless you and keep you safe.

  2. I am in AWE of these families and th nurses. I have a GREATNIECE that is one of these nurses. SHE IS IN THIS FOR LIFE. LOVES THESE CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES TO THE MAX.
    MAY GOD KEEP YOU ALL SAFE IN HIS ARMS. PRAYERS FOR ALL. PATIENTS, FAMILY, AND THE NURSES AND DOCTORS.

  3. As a mom of a child who was 5 when he was diagnosed with Leukemia while I had three month old twins at home, I read this and wept. He completed a two and a half year course of chemo last year and I feel more PTSD than I did in my years in the military.

    I must say that there were many days and nights that I tried to hide my tears from the nurses but they almost always knew. Often they’d come over and hug me and encourage me. I’m forever grateful for the kindness of the nurses and doctors in Pediatric Oncology, like you Erin that have not allowed this become normal or routine. God knows there is absolutely nothing normal about seeing your child ill and fighting for their lives while you as their mom and protector, are unable to do anything to stop it.

    Thank for this beautiful letter and for what you do. We parents are eternally thankful for nurses like you. 😍

    Shenera Smith

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